"I like Paul [Johnson]," Groh said. "I think he's a terrific coach. And this is a situation where I think I can be successful for a lot of different reasons. If that wasn't the case, then I wouldn't have taken the job."
Groh arrives in Atlanta after a mostly successful (59-53) nine-year run at Virginia. Groh's Cavaliers teams usually had strong defenses, no coincidence since that is the side of the ball he knows well.
Groh needs to improve a Yellow Jackets defense that ranked seventh in the ACC last season (360.3 ypg). The run defense needs the most work after yielding an average of 151.6 yards per game (4.9 yards per carry) to rank eighth in the ACC.
Groh was one of the top assistant hires in the offseason. Following is a look at the top five assistant hires in each of the Big Six conferences; the coaches are listed alphabetically.
Paul Johnson hit a grand slam in tabbing Groh, who has a sophisticated defensive mind and knows how to develop players. Groh has an intimate familiarity with the ACC after coaching Virginia the past nine seasons.
He almost left Arizona to become defensive coordinator at Washington after the 2008 season. Stoops finally left Arizona for the chance to work for a Seminoles program with loads of potential.
Jon Tenuta, North Carolina State linebackers coach.
Few draw up as many sophisticated blitzes and schemes as Tenuta, who knows the ACC well after serving as defensive coordinator at North Carolina and Georgia Tech before working the past two years at Notre Dame.
It hurt to lose Terrell Williams to Texas A&M, but the Boilermakers hit a home run by hiring Emanuel from Rutgers. Emanuel held the same post at Purdue from 1997-2004, developing the likes of Anthony Spencer, Akin Ayodele and Shaun Phillips before going on to coach with the San Francisco 49ers. Plus, Emanuel is a top recruiter.
He's Tim Brewster's third offensive coordinator in four seasons - and he may be the best yet. Horton won't alter the Gophers' pro-style scheme, but he'll tweak it. He arrives with a fat résumé, having coached in the NFL since 2006 with the Rams and Lions. He has coached 22 years in the college ranks and was coach of Nevada (1993) and UNLV (1994-98).
One of the top defensive minds in the game, Koenning most recently was co-defensive coordinator at Kansas State. He forged some of his reputation as coordinator at Clemson, which ranked in the top 25 nationally in scoring, total defense and pass-efficiency defense in each of his four seasons (2005-08) with the Tigers.
Things may not have worked out as defensive coordinator at Georgia, but Martinez still is adept at X'ing and O'ing. He initially took a spot on Stanford's staff before reversing course and joining the Sooners.
He brings a wealth of knowledge, having coached in the NFL since 1986. Fangio most recently worked for Jim Harbaugh's brother, John, with the Baltimore Ravens as linebackers coach. If Fangio can upgrade a mediocre Cardinal defense, Stanford may have a chance to compete for the Pac-10 title.
Though he doesn't have the coordinator title, he followed son Lane from Tennessee to run the Trojans' defense. Many consider Kiffin to be among the best - if not the best - defensive coordinators in football.
After watching Bob Gregory leave to be an assistant at Boise State, Cal coach Jeff Tedford scored big by luring Pendergast from the Oakland Raiders. He spent the past 15 years in the NFL and has an extensive history as a coordinator, having run units with the Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals.
He never had blue-chip talent at Middle Tennessee State, so Diaz had to think outside the box to out-scheme offenses - and he often succeeded. The ability to do more with less is what makes Diaz valuable.
Mark Richt's job may be riding on how well Grantham performs. Grantham brings a wealth of experience to Athens, having most recently coached the defensive line of the Dallas Cowboys. He also was defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns. It will be key for the Bulldogs to adapt quickly to Grantham's 3-4 scheme.
He's a former coach (Tulsa, 1988-99) who most recently was offensive coordinator at Alabama (2003-06). Rader's vast experience will prove invaluable, especially as the Rebels develop a new quarterback.